THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-14-01
LESSON TITLE: THE LORD'S RESPONSE: LORD, ARE THERE ARE FEW WHO ARE SAVED?
Good morning and welcome to the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us this morning for this time of offering to God. Together we will sing songs of praise and study from His Word to glorify His name. I hope each of us will do our part to make this time together both profitable for ourselves and acceptable in His sight. Now let's begin by approaching His almighty throne in prayer.
There are many things in this life that are precious to us. For most of us, probably the most special things in our lives are the relationships we share with others who we love and care so much about. Especially as husbands, wives, parents, and grandparents - we all are crazy about those special family members in our life who are always there for us and who brighten our day. Think about how sweet it is to have a hug from that little gift from God, how truly blessed we are in this life.
Also, in connection with those things which are so sweet in this life, we might consider the many of you who have a sweet tooth - like my wife. But again, the point is there are so many wonderful things in this life that mean the world to us. As Christians, we find the very same thing in Christ. In fact, one song which we sing refers to the sweetest thing which we will every know in this life. Won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing together, "Sweeter Than All!"
(SONG # 1)
In Isaiah 9:2 we read, "The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined." How interesting it is to find here that even under the Old Law, many were in darkness, but they were awakened by a great light and brought to the Lord.
This is the same terminology that is used throughout the New Testament. Under Christianity we have also been brought out of darkness into light, just as we read in 1 John 1:7. There it says, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,...." You might ask the question, "but why must we walk in the light?" Well the same text answers this question, where in verse 5 it says, "...God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." Aren't we to be like God, thus we must be of the light, because God is light.
Here the light signifies the purity and goodness of God. In other words, we are righteous because He is righteous. On the other hand, the darkness refers to evil and sinful things, just as our text indicates. We can not be of God, and practice those things of the darkness, because there is not darkness in God! Likewise, if we are striving to be like God, there will be no darkness in us either.
One other point I wanted to bring out is found in a verse we earlier read the first part of, verse 7. The last part of that verse says, "...and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." So, if we are walking in the light as God is in the light we not only have fellowship with each other, but we also have forgiveness of sins. How wonderful it is to know that the blood of Christ continually cleanses us from our sins as long as we are striving to walk in the light.
So the question I must ask you is are you walking in the light? Now if you are then why not do the rest of what Jesus told you when He said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16. Others see God in us when they see His light shinning through us! Are you that city on a Hill or are you hiding your light? Won't you choose to be a greater light for God?
Today we are going to again study a topic from the series "The Lord's Response." Our specific lesson this morning will be, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" Please stay with us and in a few minutes I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the day, the name of the song, "The Great Physician."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us this morning. Our topic today as we continue to look at many of the different responses that our Lord gave to individuals who asked questions of Him and as I've already mentioned this morning today will be responding to the question, "Lord, are there few that are saved?" Again, this will be a very interesting discussion. We've had a good response already from individuals who've heard these on the program and it seems like it's interesting because it gives you so many different ways that you can go because as we've said from the outset, the Lord continually used this idea of not only responding to questions with questions but also Himself asking many questions to encourage people to think on their own and maybe come up with their own ideas and concepts along the lines that He really desired for them to by the use of parables and stories and different illustrations that really made a better point than if He had just come out and said that the answer was A or B.
If you'll look with me then beginning at the book of Luke, the gospel according to Luke, we want to read from chapter 13 to kind of get what our text is all about and the question that was asked this morning and if you'll look there, we want to look beginning in verses 22 and read through about 30, a little bit more lengthy but then again to give us the full picture of what was taking place. We do want to read from chapter 13 there again in the book of Luke. And it says this. And He went through the cities and villages teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I say to you will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen up and shut the door and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drink in your presence and you taught in our streets.' But He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.' There will be a weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and yourself thrust out. They will come from the East and the West, from the North and the South, and sit down in the kingdom of God and indeed there are last who will be first and there are first who will be last."
As you notice the discussion that is taking place here, it's really in connection with final things, those things that are to come and really I believe that's what the question was all about when they were wondering, "Well, how many are going to be saved?" Probably all of us have wondered that from time to time. It doesn't matter whether we're maybe in Springfield or whether we're in our own congregations or wherever we might attend services and we sit and we look around us and see hundreds of other people. We're reminded sometimes. Well, I wonder how many of these individuals will be in heaven with me or with the Lord. And when we think about these things, it's very natural that we wonder how many will be saved and especially in relationship to what was said here as God was trying to help them through Jesus Christ, His son, the messenger, trying to help them understand that clearly few there would be that find it. And I like what it said here because in verses 25 through about 27, you continually see the concept that there is a door, a door that seems to have been opened but now is shut, but people keep knocking wanting in the door, but they're being rejected at this point because it seems that they were not willing to accept Christ at an earlier date. They said, "You know, we knew you before. We ate with you. We heard you speaking." But again, the problem was as they had not opened or at least come in the door when it was opened and now they were being rejected as we see here. So much so as we go on there in verse 29 as well as verse 28 above that, seeing that it mentions something about a punishment, a weeping or gnashing of teeth, those who will be lost because of this. And then again, He reminds of really the servant concept that is really throughout many of the concepts in the New Testament where He says to us very clearly that the first will be last, and the last will be first. Again, something about our attitude, the concept of humility. Are we really doing what we can for God in order that we really humble ourselves and then before God we are considered as first or are we really those who want to be out in the forefront and be known by others and therefore because we think we're first, we might end up finding ourselves that we are really last.
Turn with me to the parallel over in Matthew chapter 7 because I think there's a very clear point made here also, probably the more familiar of the two passages and really the more clearer if we read it by itself. But actually here as we read beginning in chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, Enter by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.
We have an illustration here again by our Lord, the very same concept, the very same idea where we have two different paths or ways here that we can take.
I'm reminded of a story that I remember learning, actually a poem, when I was young. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. And I'm reminded there because he mentions there were two different roads that were heading into the woods so to speak. One being well-traveled and was broad, many people went in there by. And then there was a more narrow, a less traveled type of a road. I wonder where he got his idea, but it's probably very obvious that some of these concepts were here even from a Biblical basis, or at least hearing it from a Biblical basis, because this is exactly what the Lord is saying. He's saying there are two roads. There is a broad road that seems to be well-traveled, and that way is actually leading to destruction. Why? Because it is the way of the world. It is the way of sin. Now, let me remind you again that just because something is of the world doesn't make it sinful, but if something is of the world and we put it before God, that could make it sinful. But again, we need to confirm that there are some things in this life that are really based in evil, or based in sinfulness. So they in themselves are wrong and we are not to be those that participate as the children of God.
But as we again consider this concept, the broad way of the world, where the world is following the world, where the world is more interested in self and really rejecting God. Then on the other hand, we have mentioned here in the latter verse, verse 14. There's also a narrow way with a narrow gate, rather than the broad way and the broad gate, but the narrow way. Not many are going that way. In fact, what He says here is it's a difficult way. It's a hard way because it's unique. It's special. It's not like what everybody else is doing, but it's rather like maybe what just a few have chosen to take on. And that's exactly what the will of God has always been about, and that's why here He says, few there be that find it.
I'm reminded to the Israelites, the time back when God had chosen one nation out of the millions of people on earth, chose one nation that would follow Him and many times they were following Him. But again, in proportion to the vast amount of people and nations on earth, here He again, had a select few.
I'm reminded of the time when Noah and his sons and wives were also saved from the flood. Here again, God saving only a few when really there were millions at that time who were living. God again, focusing on a few.
And here we find the very same thing. In relationship as we go back to Luke, as we read earlier, to those who are saying, "Lord, Lord." And I think that's just exactly the point that trying to be made here because what it's telling us is it's not enough to just say, "Lord, Lord." It's not acceptable to just say, "I believe in God" or "I love God." And then not prove anything in the things that I do or say in my life, but rather I might live in a very evil and wicked way and expect God to save me because I've said, "Lord, Lord" or because I've seen Him or I've read something about His Bible, or I say, "Yes, I love God." But here again, what makes the distinction? Jesus said, what truly makes the distinction, as we read further in Matthew 7 in verse 21, But not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of God, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. You see what separates those who are with God, those who are without God, no matter what they say with their mouths, is again that thing, the action, the work, those who do the will, do His action. Not just say it but we do it. And you and I know exactly what is said here is true because the only way that we can look around in our congregations in the world and know who is really of God is when we see it in their lives. On the other hand, we all know individuals, maybe in our congregations, who claim to be Christians, but then throughout the week you find them involved in many things that are contrary to the will of God, that are not right. So how is it that one can say, "Yes I love Lord, Lord" but then the things that they do are not according to His will. So that's what separates as the Bible says sometimes the sheep from the goats, those who are not doing according to the will of God and those who are serious about what God has said.
So when this person came to Him there in Luke and he said, "Lord, are there few that are saved?" What God was telling him here in the flesh, Jesus, "Yes. There are few. Few there be that find it." Why? Because it's so difficult to follow that narrow way. It's a hard way. It's a hard way because we want to so much in this world be like everybody else, to have what everybody else has. So it's very difficult for us to choose to be different.
Now why then would this be so important that we understand that few there be that find it. Well, it's important because there is a judge, the Bible says. A judge who again is founded in that son, Jesus Christ. He is the one who will come again and judge the world. How will He judge the world? As you and I know, the Bible says, according to the will of the Father. So now when we begin to say, "Lord how many will be saved?" Then it gives a whole new meaning, a whole new concept, much more deeper insights, because now we understand it means that really we're talking about life and death here, eternal life. That we will actually stand before Jesus Christ someday and He will judge us as we read there in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, verses 4 and 5.
I want to turn now over into another gospel account, the book of John, and we want to see what John had to say there in John chapter 12, because again John is really helping us to understand somewhat about what it means to judge, what's involved in the concepts of judging here, and acknowledging again who the judge will be because some today still reject and don't admit that Christ is not only coming again but that He will judge the world. But in John chapter 12, read with me if you will verse 48. Jesus Himself said, he who rejects me and does not receive my words has that which judges him, the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
There again, the idea there's something that will judge us all. What is it? It's the word that Jesus spoke. Where do we have the word today? We know that the word is the truth here, the word of God, the Bible. So when we read it and we know what God wants then we find that it is from God. Now if you notice the next verse, 49, He says that I haven't spoken on my own authority, but the father has given me the command. So what we're talking about here that Jesus said is all authoritative because it's from the Father and He being the son, God Himself, deity in the flesh, we know that He was delivering to us that word which we will be judged by. Now let's kind of clear that up and maybe put it in layman's terms so to speak. So if God says I shouldn't lie and I choose to lie. Now we're not talking about messing up from time to time and still wanting to do what God says in repenting and correcting that. But we're talking about someone who says, "I know God says I shouldn't lie, but I'm going to lie anyway." And someone knows the will of God, but they just seem to reject it. That's exactly what we're talking about today, are those who claim to be "Lord, Lord" but again they do not do the things that God has said. The proof is in the action. The proof is in the work. Because faith as you and I know James said is dead without works, without being seen. That's the proof in the pudding. That's what really shows people that we are of God.
We also need to understand not only will God judge us but obviously that will infer that there is a judgment. Throughout the Bible, we have different ideas and places in the gospel accounts as well as the letters which are written to different churches as well as different individuals where there is a judgment day that is coming. We see that in the book of Thessalonians. We see that in the book of Hebrews, several different places. Even in the book of Hebrews 9 and 27, we see it's appointed for man to die and after that is what? The judgment. So there is a time that when we die, or even after we die when the Lord will come again, that we will be judged. We will find ourselves before His throne. And what will we be judged by? The will of God, the word of God. And again, that shows us even the more readiness we need to have in knowing His will in order that we might follow it.
So it's our responsibility to worry about ourselves. You know, there is no one that you have to answer for, and I thank God for that. And there's no one that I have to answer for. God's not going to say, "But Ray why did so and so do this?" That's not my problem. Now it might be my problem if I didn't do what I was supposed to do and caused someone to fall, but if I'm doing my best, if I'm giving my all and God sees that and knows that, which He knows all things, then surely He will accept me. But I still must realize that I will stand before God. I will be judged and answer for myself. You know, sometimes those in religion or those in the church want to say, "Well, I want to blame my pastor, or I want to blame the elders here, as we're speaking about, or I want to blame the preacher or blame someone else who said something ugly to me at one point." I don't know how many times I've heard those ideas and concepts. But they're wrong. They are ungodly, because when we each stand before God, it doesn't matter who you blame, the blame is on yourself. You have the choice today. I have the choice to do God's will, to realize that few there be that are saved. Therefore, that should motivate us. That should encourage us. That should enthuse us to know what the truth is, to follow it and do what God has asked us, to do what is right, to do what is found in His word, to do what He has asked us.
Just like the example that we have in the book of Matthew chapter 20, where we find there that there was a master who had a vineyard and we find that he had hired many to work and some had been working a long time and some came later and then some even at the eleventh hour and when it came time for there to be payment, you know that they all came and they all received the same wage. Well, there were some who were mad because they said, "We've been working longer." Well, the fact is God will give the same reward to all those who have done according to His will, but again, you must do according to His will. That's what God is going to do according to His promises, but then again we must realize that those who claim to be of God, but yet are worried about petty things, about how that God might reward someone else even though they haven't done as much or been a Christian as long as I have. We must realize that God is a just God. He has promised to give us certain things. He has promised to give this to all men and we need to be thankful to God because we are lovers of souls. We want all to repent and to come to righteousness, the righteousness that we know, the righteousness that we are able to follow as children of God.
I want to finally mention this morning that in relationship to the concept of the ones who will be saved and the few it seems that there will be to be saved. There are many things that will be involved in the judgment and really we could start on things we've talked about in the past. We've discussed many characteristics. But there's so many attitudes that we need to consider. How we act everyday, the actions that we go through, the words that come out of our mouths, the way that we treat others in our lives, the way that we act toward them. But ultimately as we again demonstrate ourselves according to this book, the word of God, we study it and we learn it and we find what God wants.
There's still something one must first do in order that we be added to those who are saved. And we know that because in Acts 2 and 47 it says there that those who were baptized that day were added to the Lord's church. You have to be in the Lord's church again to be a part of that select group, that few group that actually are going to be obedient and considered as trustworthy before Him. And you do that as the Bible tells us by repenting, by turning from sin in your life, by confessing the beautiful name of Jesus Christ and then being willing to be buried with Him in baptism. Why baptism? Because that's where we meet the blood of Christ. It washes away our sins and it puts us in that group again, that group of as the Bible says, Jesus Himself says, Few there be that find it. I don't know about you but I want to be a part of the Christian family and today you can be if you'll only do the will of God.
(SONG # 3 - "To Christ Be True!")
It was great having you with us today for the Living Word Program. I hope that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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As we all study and grow older every day, may we each realize and accept, more and more, the great truth that God said, "few there be that find it." Are you doing His Will?